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Theo Ceccaldi: Petite Moutarde

Glenn Astarita By

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Violinist Theo Ceccaldi is an in-demand European session artist and a prolific bandleader. He's a skillful improviser, performing for a variety of experimental labels. Yet Petite Moutarde ("Small Mustard") is his debut for the Paris, France based startup, OnJazz Records. Guitarist, composer Olivier Benoit serves as the label's artistic director, and released two superb large ensemble albums in 2015: Europa Paris and Europa Berlin. Otherwise, the black & white CD cover for Petite Moutarde may be viewed as either humorous or disturbing.

Interestingly enough, many of these works are named after condiments or small fruits. Nonetheless, the music speaks for itself and commences with the explosive "Petit Citron Vert," where drummer Florian Satche uses gongs and dark cymbals to paint a menacing outlook, followed by the band's fervent, odd-metered pulse. They move forward by launching a speedy free-bop type motif amid complex time signatures and a torrid breakdown. Moreover, Ceccaldi leads the quartet thru regions of stark minimalism and a few introspective interludes along with dynamic asymmetrical platforms.

"Petit Piment d' Espelette" is structured with a regimented odd-metered motif via Ceccaldi and saxophonist Alexandra Grimal's somewhat discordant unison choruses, detoured with false endings and Satche's crashing bombardments. No doubt, the musicians will keep the listeners' on the edge, which is a perspective that continues on "Petit Wasabi," marked by the violinist's scorching improvisational acumen and Grimal's fierce sopranino sax soloing. But they lower the temperature on the subdued "Petit Chipotle," where Grimal often alternates voice parts with her blithe soprano sax work. It's a ballad, imbued with a serrated edge, leading to "Petite Harissa" that is a rather ominous piece, amped by the ensemble's flailing and nerve- rattling mode of execution. Overall, this is a presentation that students or advocates of truly artistic jazz-based improvisational methodologies should investigate.

Track Listing: Petit Citron Vert; Petit Railfort; Petit Piment d’ Espelette; Petit Wasabi; Petit Poivre de Sichuan; Petit Chipotle; Petite Harissa; Petit Gingembre.

Personnel: Theo Ceccaldi: violin, alto, compositions; Alexandra Grimal: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, sopranino saxophone, voice; Ivan Gelugne: bass; Florian Satche: drums.

Title: Petite Moutarde | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Onjazz Records

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